Why ban page 3?

(583 Posts)
jackburton Tue 12-Feb-13 20:44:18

Hi, this is my first post, please be gentle smile . I'm looking for some thoughtful discussion on page 3 and the objectification of women, my wife suggested posting here. Any recommendations for good articles or feedback would be great.

My main issue with a lot of the traditional discussion on this issue is that there seems to be an implicit assumption of passivity and conformity in women that I can't really relate to as a man (or feel is present in many of the women in my life). I don't particularly worry about my son seeing body building or gay lifestyle magazines or other fetishised representations of men because I see them as part of a range of different types of lifestyle that he could adopt. I would think it quite alien that the occasional image of men in this way would significantly affect me (or him). In contrast, advertising and lifestyle magazines aimed at women seem to impose a very disturbing level of conformity and one that I feel would not be acceptable to most men. Frankly a lot of female targeted products seem to objectify (in the sense of judging purely by appearance) and be misogynist (in the sense of appearing to gain pleasure from and dwelling on the humiliation of women, particularly if their superficial appearance is non-conformist). In contrast most pornographic products aimed at men include a great diversity of female personality types, some are passive but many are not, Jordan being a classic example. They aren't treated as objects in the sense that their desire is critical to their appeal, sex dolls are relatively undesirable. While there is certainly some pornography and lifestyle discussions that appear to encourage pleasure in the suffering of women I feel this is in the minority with most magazines presenting their female models as stars who are the centre of attention and whose happiness and desire is an important part of their appeal.

My initial feelings about the campaign against page 3 is that these images are being judged assuming they were present in the kind of magazine targeted at women i.e. they are a conforming image and that they would lead to humiliation of those that didn't conform. I think the majority of male culture is not oppressive in that way. Personally I find mainstream female culture to be much more of a problem for women's liberation than these products. What am I missing?

sashh Wed 13-Feb-13 09:37:20

I'm not sure page 3 is responsible for men liking to look at women's breasts.

It's not the looking, it the belief they have a right to look.

namechangeguy Wed 13-Feb-13 10:12:49

I am going to post here as the OP is a man, and I am assuming he wont immediately want to jump up and down on my head.

I was wondering how lesbian lifestyle magazines might conduct themselves with regards to advertising, and the presentation of women. The only one I am aware of - and feel safe googling at work - is Diva, so I had a quick look. Top of the homepage is an advert by an underwear company. It shows the pelvic region of three models, wearing tight boxer shorts. No face, no body, no legs - just a tanned and toned midrift and tight undies. No muffin top, no fat, perfect skin.

I would expect the readership of a publication like Diva to be pretty politically aware, and to be conversant with many of the basic tenets of feminism. I would also expect their readership to be overwhelmingly female. So why would they run an advert like that? That is a genuine question, by the way. I don't know much about Diva, and it might not be a great example.

BubblesOfBliss Wed 13-Feb-13 12:56:12

Diva from what I've seen isn't particularly feminist. Its loyalty is more to gay/queer - ie- male-defined homosexuality over women as a group or female-defined homosexuality.

Although lots of feminists are lesbians and lots of lesbians are feminists, not all lesbians are feminists by a long shot!

namechangeguy Wed 13-Feb-13 13:08:44

Thanks for that BoB, although I am now more confused than ever! From Diva's website;

^DIVA HISTORY

DIVA was first published in March 1994 and remains the only monthly glossy newsstand magazine for lesbians and bi women in the UK.

THE DIVA MISSION

DIVA aims to deliver the best information, inspiration and online shopping to lesbians everywhere! We aim to provide excellence in innovation, information and entertainment for all our customers, and to make them feel individually special, and connected to our wider community. We provide the highest-quality magazine, retail experience and web presence possible for gay women and are dedicated to creating and evolving a magazine and a community to be proud of.^

Nothing about men in there. They claim to be all about women.

BubblesOfBliss Wed 13-Feb-13 13:11:00

I have to say - the OP makes me want to weep... It illustrates just how impervious to understanding women's reality male-privilege makes men - even when they appear to be genuinely seeking to understand.

Seeing how much it taxes male imagination to even get the vaguest hint of what forcibly and unavoidably slaps women in the face every minute of every day- it illustrates the profound inequality of it all. SO depressing sad

BubblesOfBliss Wed 13-Feb-13 13:15:03

gay women.... the subgroup. It use to be 'gays' and 'lesbians' - then the male generic as in every other area of life 'gay' to describe homosexuals as a group. Using 'gay women' implies that the rhetoric and understanding underpinning the ethos of the magazine comes from the male dominated gay community rather than from the woman-centred lesbian feminist community.

namechangeguy Wed 13-Feb-13 13:21:41

Well, thanks again. And I thought feminism was complicated! confused

BubblesOfBliss Wed 13-Feb-13 13:52:54

"And I thought feminism was complicated!"

Not really. Just that male dominance and misogyny are as much the norm in the gay community as the rest of society.

FastidiaBlueberry Wed 13-Feb-13 14:08:39

Call me a fuddy duddy but a mag which claims that one of the reasons for its existence is to tell women all about shopping opportunities, isn't a mag I'd expect to have thoughtful political views tbh.

"They claim to be all about women."

Yeah, well. All about women in a patriarchal society as defined by patriarchal values.

Fillyjonk75 Wed 13-Feb-13 14:26:55

I just don't want to be confronted with sexualised naked tits in public while going about my business really, or for some guy next to me on the train to be openly leching at them. Does it require any further explanation?

BubblesOfBliss Wed 13-Feb-13 14:56:31

"I just don't want to be confronted with sexualised naked tits in public while going about my business really, or for some guy next to me on the train to be openly leching at them. Does it require any further explanation?"

Unfortunately Fillyjonk75, while most men have delusions that if the roles were reversed they would have loads of 'hot' women perving over pictures of random naked men in unexpected places - beyond being able to imagine a mild sense of jealousy about the six-packs (which would be balanced up by their mental picture of being surrounded by hot women gagging for sex all the time)- they are generally incapable of picturing anything negative, let alone sexist about it, so it really does require a huuuuuge amount of further explanation.

SplitHeadGirl Wed 13-Feb-13 15:45:17

I was in the maternity dept at my local hospital (I'm 30 weeks pregnant) and the man beside me was there with his little daughter and his wife/partner. Anyway, he was 'reading' the Sun and he opened it to page three for quite a long time.

I always hated page 3, just how it normalises women's objectification and makes men's wants and likes oh-so important, but for a man to sit and think nothing of looking at it in a maternity dept, with his little girl beside him, just told me that so many men don't have a clue. Or else they just don't care about the women around them and how we feel.

WhentheRed Wed 13-Feb-13 15:49:56

What is sadly depressing is the commentary btl on the Guardian article, which highlights BubblesofBliss's very point. In the article, the writer commented about being uncomfortable as a teenager sitting next to a man on the bus while he stared at a page three photo. She received howls of derision - everything from

- Page 3 isn't intended to arouse men (because men don't want to be aroused in public). They are just pretty pictures to give men something nice to view.
- She was a middle class schoolgirl heaping derision on the simple pleasures of a working class man.
- It's her fault she is uncomfortable with nudity.
- She made the whole story up.
- Why didn't she move?
- This whole covering-up business is feminism's fault hmm

As FillyJonk75 comments, this should be pretty obvious but it doesn't appear to be. I was unfortunate enough to grow up when nude pictures of women were on the walls of workplaces and the wet t-shirt models were on the backs of lager cans. Men openly leered and catcalled, and God forbid as a teenager you walked down the street in your school uniform.

It wouldn't be so bad if men helped out by calling out other men's sexist behaviour towards women. But they don't, do they? They are totally oblivious.

YouMakeMeWannaLaLa Wed 13-Feb-13 16:06:16

Although the Op and namechangeguy are coming across as nice people, there is the implication in your posts that theres 'not really a problem' and 'if you think about it properly, you're all wrong, it's a fuss about nothing, 'it's not a feminist issue'.

I'm certain you will refute this but that's how it seems to me.

jackburton Wed 13-Feb-13 16:23:49

"I have to say - the OP makes me want to weep"

smile Ok I'll bite.

In some cultures it is considered disgusting when a woman appears as sexually desirable. Completely taboo to have an appearance that exaggerates sexual characteristics, like high heels, visible cleavage etc. I find this attitude oppressive and disturbing and wouldn't want these kind of moralistic restrictions on behaviour. I think without a strong harm based argument the same should be said for restricting the actions and opinions of men.

I view pornography as being primarily about men finding women sexually desirable which I think is broadly positive (it certainly beats viewing them as disgusting). I think most men are aware of women's level of interest in them and if they choose to ignore that most men are aware they are doing something illegitimate, and something taken so seriously by men that it could well lead to violence against them. I think these actions are akin to bullying or physical abuse between men, very different from thinking that women will or should consent to sexual advances, and clearly misogynistic. I feel the male equivalent of cat calls is abusive insults directed at men by similar groups, designed to intimidate and humiliate.

My main point is that mainstream female journalism appears explicitly objectifying and misogynist and much more harmful to how women view themselves. While many of the posters find it disgusting that a man might casually view an image designed to arouse him, I find it more disgusting that people would so casually take pleasure from the humiliation of others and have entertainment products that so explicitly emphasise conformist behaviour.

YouMakeMeWannaLaLa Wed 13-Feb-13 16:31:59

jack Yes, women oppress women...but WHY do you think that is (clue: other posters have already mentioned it on this thread).

Seriously, you don't see the problem, the connection?

jackburton Wed 13-Feb-13 16:51:14

I'm sorry if I don't get what you're saying. I'm clearly missing the point that is being made.

My impression is that you feel that women oppress women because men oppress women and that pornography is a form of oppression of women that has a causal link to women oppressing women.

I don't think the argument that pornography is oppressing to women is clear to me. For example, I've given the example of Jordan who does not seem oppressed and seems to encourage assertive behaviour in those who emulate her.
I also don't see how pornography necessarily leads to increased objectification and misogynistic treatment of women as I think most men are not confused by women's interest in them or in the illegitimate nature of advances towards them. I think those actions are abusive and their cause is entertainment and cultures which encourage abuse.

I think women oppressing women is understandable without there needing to be a causal link from men. Men bully men and impose oppressive and humiliating status hierarchies on each other without the need for influence from others. Men often do so with the threat of violence, when that is not socially acceptable psychological methods are used that are often very similar to the kind of oppressive objectification and humiliation present in female targeted journalism. Perhaps women oppressing women has more to do with an oppressive status based culture that to some extent western male culture does not feel as strongly any more. Such a culture has certainly defined male interactions in the past. In this way I think such a culture is both natural and changeable and a much greater cause of female suffering than the actions of men, at least relatively young men (middle aged on down) who have never known a society without women's rights being legally protected and advocated.

YouMakeMeWannaLaLa Wed 13-Feb-13 16:58:08

I also don't see how pornography necessarily leads to increased objectification and misogynistic treatment of women

'kin 'ell, Jack I'm not a fan of the term 'lost cause', but you may well be a candidate. I'll leave it to someone more patient than I.

Fare thee well.

jackburton Wed 13-Feb-13 16:59:59

I am sorry you feel that way, thanks for your comments.

FastidiaBlueberry Wed 13-Feb-13 17:00:09

"I view pornography as being primarily about men finding women sexually desirable which I think is broadly positive (it certainly beats viewing them as disgusting)."

That's where I'd disagree with you.

Most porn nowadays is not about men finding women sexually desirable. Most porn is deeply imbued with horrific misogyny. If you turn off all your filters and simply google "porn", just check out the first 10 entries that come up - they're all full of really horrifically sexist, misogynist porn which assumes that women are sluts and fucking is some kind of punishment.

Given that most men nowadays access porn via the internet and google is the most popular search engine, it is utterly naieve to think that porn is primarily about finding women sexually desirable. Unless you assume that desirable = hateful, worthless slut.

Gail Dines' book, Pornland has masses of information about this.

As to the claim that women's mags are more misogynistic, I think you're missing the structural issue here: who owns the women's magazines? Who finances them? Who makes the decisions regarding whether advertisements will appear in them? In all patriarchies, men often wash their hands of the dirty work of oppressing women and get other women to do it. Hence the reason the women of the family broke and bound the feet of the little girls in China at about aged 7 or so, the reason FGM is carried out by women in many present day societies etc. Men can claim that it's nothing to do with them, it's women doing it to themselves and each other, while presiding over the system that does this to women - men would refuse to marry women who had healthy feet, they still refuse to marry women who have not been genitally mutilated, they won't finance magazines which don't specialise in telling us we're too fat/ too shit etc.

Right Wing Women by Andrea Dworkins discusses aspects of this. (One day I will read it. smile)

FastidiaBlueberry Wed 13-Feb-13 17:01:31

"I've given the example of Jordan who does not seem oppressed and seems to encourage assertive behaviour in those who emulate her."

Have you got any evidence for this?

FastidiaBlueberry Wed 13-Feb-13 17:12:11

"I think women oppressing women is understandable without there needing to be a causal link from men."

Wrong. Women oppress women in the context of living in a patriarchy, where men are seen as the default human, women are seen as the "other" and they fight for the crumbs from men's tables and fight for male approval.

"Men bully men and impose oppressive and humiliating status hierarchies on each other without the need for influence from others."

This is patriarchy. This is the "influence from others" - other men, who are buying into patriarchal values.

"Perhaps women oppressing women has more to do with an oppressive status based culture that to some extent western male culture does not feel as strongly any more."

Wrong again, I think. The oppressive status based culture is patriarchy and though it may not be expresses as explicitly as before, it's absolutely amazing to think that anyone can possibly believe status doesn't matter anymore. Tell that to the young men who kill each other because they're infringing on each other's patch in gangs.

"Such a culture has certainly defined male interactions in the past." It is still defining it now, sometimes very obviously, as in gangs, sometimes in a less raw form such as in the boardroom, at parties, clubs etc. where men jockey for position.

"In this way I think such a culture is both natural and changeable and a much greater cause of female suffering than the actions of men, at least relatively young men (middle aged on down) who have never known a society without women's rights being legally protected and advocated."

Sorry but you're falling into the trap that every society has fallen into of believing that just because women have won some rights (from an unbelievably low base) we're all pretty much equal now and the problems have gone away.

1 in 4 women get raped or sexually assaulted. 1 in 4 live with chronic domestic violence. 1 in 3 men under the age of 25, agree when asked in surveys, that rape victims are partly responsible for their own rape if they were drunk or flirting with their rapist earlier on in the evening. Most men under 25 have accessed porn, most of which is violent and misogynistic. 1 in 3 girls experience sexual harassment at school (not from the teachers, from their fellow pupils). Do you really think that young men are any less sexist than older ones? I don't think so.

jackburton Wed 13-Feb-13 17:16:59

Here is an interesting piece advocating her as a role model.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2167327/Why-I-admire-Katie-Price-Former-glamour-model-Jordan-Womans-Hour-presenter-JENNI-MURRAY-normally-detests--So-changed-mind.html

I realise it doesn't quite hit the point I was trying to make, which unfortunately I have second hand from a friend of my wife who is an English teacher and whose female students primarily choose her autobiography as the first book they read for class. These students seem assertive but I realise it is hard to tell the difference between insecure defensive behaviour and assertive behaviour.

FastidiaBlueberry Wed 13-Feb-13 17:17:49

Do the Bechdel test every time you go to the cinema:

There are 2 women in the film
They talk to each other
The conversation is not about a man.

You would be shocked to see how many films don't even pass this basic test of portraying women at all, let alone as fully rounded characters the way they portray men.

Men are growing up in that culture. Page 3 is part of it.

jackburton Wed 13-Feb-13 17:19:48

"Wrong. Women oppress women in the context of living in a patriarchy, where men are seen as the default human, women are seen as the "other" and they fight for the crumbs from men's tables and fight for male approval."

Perhaps there is a specific group of men you are thinking of. I have not experienced any women fighting for my approval.

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